Cowen welcomes vindication at last for murdered civilians
THE Saville Report was vindication for the families and friends of Bloody Sunday victims who have been campaigning for justice for 38 years, Taoiseach Brian Cowen said.
Mr Cowen said the fateful events of January 30, 1972, were an "act of murder" that cried out for justice and truth.
And he claimed there was an "unjustified and unjustifiable" killing of innocent civilians by those who claimed to be keeping the peace and upholding the law.
"It was an act of murder that cried out for justice and truth. Instead, justice and truth were denied and cast aside," Mr Cowen said in a lengthy response to the Saville Report outside Government buildings.
The Taoiseach thanked British Prime Minister David Cameron for his "brave and honest words" and for publishing the inquiry's report so early into his first term of office.
Mr Cameron said what happened on Bloody Sunday was unjustified and wrong.
Mr Cowen's spokesman last night confirmed the Taoiseach had talked with some of the bereaved families and campaigners by phone yesterday afternoon and will meet with more of them today in Government Buildings.
"Today is a day of vindication for them. Their quest for a new inquiry has been fully and incontrovertibly justified," Mr Cowen said. "A shameful attempt to distort history at the expense of the innocent -- the Widgery report -- has itself now been consigned to history. The truth has been set free."
Following yesterday's report, there are now no doubts or ambiguities, Mr Cowen said.
President Mary McAleese welcomed the report and said the implications of its findings will have to be considered by the "appropriate authorities".
Speaking in China, she said it marked a deeply sensitive and distressing day for families and campaigners as well as being a poignant time for all those who were victims or lost loved ones in the Troubles.
"I fervently hope that, by its publication, the Saville Report will provide them, at long last, with the consolation that the world now knows the awful truth about Bloody Sunday," she said. Foreign Affairs Minister Micheal Martin said a "great wrong" had been corrected.
Embattled Fine Gael leader Enda Kenny also welcomed the "significant" apology given by the British government for the behaviour of the paratroop regiment on Bloody Sunday. The head of the British armed forces last night endorsed Mr Cameron's unequivocal apology for the army's role on Bloody Sunday. The chief of the general staff, David Richards, said the 14 victims had done nothing which could justify their shooting.
Labour leader Eamon Gilmore said the Saville Report was a "shocking and stark indictment" of the conduct of British troops in Derry.
He also said it was a complete and unqualified vindication of those who died at their hands.